The secret to making Kiawah Island-grade seafood stew, according to the resort’s renowned chef
Shana Novak/PROP STYLING BY LAYLA KENNEY
Welcome to Clubhouse Eats, where we celebrate the game’s most delectable food and drink. Hope you brought your appetites.
Charleston may be known as Shrimp City, but according to Chef John Ondo, the culinary mastermind at Kiawah Island’s Atlantic Room, it’s the restaurant’s seafood stew — not shrimp and grits — that should be considered the area’s most representative dish.
Why? Well, in addition to the Low Country’s succulent shrimp, mussels, clams and crabmeat, the savory stew also features a curry-powder kick and Carolina Gold rice — a nod to the area’s spice-route and rice-export heritage.
And like all seafood-centric offerings, it’s the sourcing that really makes the dish sing. Ondo has worked with Abundant Seafood, a local “one-boat show,” for more than 15 years.
The seafood stew is the rare meal that hits that magical culinary sweet spot: an entrée that is both rich and filling yet also light and flavorful. And there’s no overstating the effect of that Carolina Gold rice. “Try it once,” says Ondo, “and you’ll never go back to Uncle Ben’s ever again.”
The Atlantic Room’s Seafood Stew (Serves 4)
-1 onion diced
-4 ribs celery diced
-2 carrots diced
-2 tsp garlic
-2 tbs oil
-1 tbs Yellow Curry powder
-1 pinch chile flake
-1 cup white wine
-1 qts veg stock
-1 can coconut milk
-Salt and pepper to taste
In a large heavy bottom saucepot, saute vegetables in oil until soft, add spices and incorporate. Deglaze with white wine and add vegetable stock. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook for one hour. Remove from heat and add coconut milk. Puree and serve warm.
-4 3 oz pieces of grouper
-16 jumbo shrimp peeled and deveined
-20 littleneck clams scrubbed
-½ pound picked crab meat
-1 cup white wine
-4 cups stew broth
-1 tbs vegetable oil
In a large sauce pot on high heat, heat oil and season fish with salt and pepper. Sear the fish for one minute, then remove the fish from the pot and reserve. Add clams and white wine and cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook one minute. Add mussels and four cups of stew broth, then add fish back to the pot and cook covered for four minutes.
Next, remove the lid, add shrimp and increase heat back to high. Cook two minutes more. Once the shrimp are pink, add the crab meat and remove from heat.
To serve: Place a scoop of white rice (jasmine, basmati or Carolina Gold preferred) in the center of a large bowl, carefully place a piece of fish on top of the rice and divide ingredients amongst the bowls. Ladle the rest of the sauce on each bowl. A big loaf of crusty bread as a side completes the meal nicely.